The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Timothy M. Phelps, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — In a surprising defeat for President Barack Obama, the Democratic-controlled Senate on Wednesday blocked his controversial nominee to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division.

In a statement, Obama called the 47-52 vote “a travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant.”

Supporters of Debo Adegbile, the son of a Nigerian father and an Irish mother, say his nomination had been fraught with race issues from the start. Opposition focused on his past legal representation of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a convicted cop killer in Philadelphia who became a cause celebre in leftist circles.

Adegbile’s involvement in the case brought condemnation from police unions and from the widow of the slain policeman.

Even so, until recently his nomination had been expected to pass, albeit narrowly. But on Wednesday, a procedural vote on the nomination was seen as so close that Vice President Joe Biden rushed to the Senate floor in case his vote was needed to break a tie.

In the end, seven Democrats voted against advancing the nomination. It marked the first time an Obama nominee was blocked since the Senate changed its rules last year to prevent filibusters for most presidential nominations.

Civil rights advocates who backed Adegbile expressed outrage, suggesting that race may have played a factor.

“You hate to raise that up, but it smells very bad,” said Hilary Shelton of the NAACP.

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid warned Republicans just before the vote that if Adegbile lost there would have to be a “broad discussion” of civil rights in America. At the last minute, Reid changed his vote to no, a procedural move that could allow him to call another vote in the future.

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) who voted against Adegbile, said the vote was about Adegbile’s behavior, not his race. “When someone has a history of helping cop killers, this is what happens,” Graham said in an interview.

Photo: Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights via Flickr

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

Washington (AFP) - Republicans in the US Senate prevented action Thursday on a bill to address domestic terrorism in the wake of a racist massacre at a grocery store in upstate New York.

Democrats had been expecting defeat but were seeking to use the procedural vote to highlight Republican opposition to tougher gun control measures following a second massacre at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}